When you think of a leadoff hitter in baseball, you typically think of a short, speedy, contact hitter. Usually, they aren’t huge home run hitters. Instead, they are players designed to reach base to start rallies and make room for the power hitters who come up to the plate shortly after.
When you ask who the Phillies’ leadoff hitter should be, you wouldn’t think of Kyle Schwarber, a 6’0″ tall, 229-pound slugger. Last season, Schwarber led the national league in home runs, showcasing his ball-bashing abilities, but many times he was placed atop the order and hit more solo shots than homers with runners aboard.
This season, Rob Thomson put Schwarber back into the leadoff spot when the Phillies played against the Dodgers this week, which carried into their series against the Red Sox. Let’s just say it didn’t work out well, as Schwarber went 0-19 at the top of the order with 7 strikeouts and no walks. That’s not good.
It was a head-scratcher move in the first place. Sure, Schwarber walks, but before being placed first in the Phillies’ daily lineups, Schwarber’s batting average was a measly .208. After his 0-19 slump, Schwarber’s batting average dropped to an even worse .183.
Schwarber not reaching base at all in his four games as the leadoff man was a significant factor in the Phillies’ losing streak as the Phils failed to keep up with their opponents in the run column. Hard to win games when your leadoff hitter fails to set a tone at the plate.
After Schwarber’s struggles at the dish, Thomson dropped him to 5th in the batting order in the series finale against the Red Sox on Sunday as the Phillies looked to end a six-game losing streak that dropped their record from 15-13 to 15-19.
And you want to know what? Schwarber hit a run-scoring single that gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead against the Red Sox and followed it up with a 6th-inning two-run home run to right field. Schwarber also broke his walk drought with a free pass in the 8th inning. Granted, it was an intentional walk. But a walk is a walk.
And, again, this all happened as Schwarber was dropped in the batting order, which evidently shifted pressure off his shoulders and let him swing it at the plate.
If I’m Rob Thomson, I leave Schwarber in the heart of the order for the rest of the season. Don’t let him get any higher than the 3rd spot. If Thomson wants a leadoff hitter, he should look toward Bryson Stott or Brandon Marsh and not Kyle Schwarber.